Single Tasking and Smart Focus

“The story goes that the president of a big steel company, Charles Schwab of Bethlehem Steel, had granted an interview to an efficiency expert named Ivy Lee.  Lee was telling his prospective client how he could help him do a better job of managing the company, when the president broke in to say something to the effect that he wasn’t at present managing as well as he knew how. He went on to tell Ivy Lee that what was needed wasn’t more knowing but a lot more doing. He said, “We know what we should be doing. Now if you can show us a better way of getting it done, I’ll listen to you and pay you anything within reason you ask.”

Well, Lee then said that he could give him something in 20 minutes that would increase his efficiency by at least 50 percent. He then handed the executive a blank sheet of paper and said, “Write down on this paper the six most important things you have to do tomorrow.” Well, the executive thought about it and did as requested. It took him about three or four minutes.

Then Lee said, “Now number those items in the order of their importance to you or to the company.” Well, that took another three or four or five minutes, and then Lee said, “Now put the paper in your pocket. And the first thing tomorrow morning take it out and look at item number one. Don’t look at the others, just number one, and start working on it. And if you can, stay with it until it’s completed. Then take item number two the same way, then number three, and so on, till you have to quit for the day.

“Don’t worry if you’ve only finished one or two; the others can wait. If you can’t finish them all by this method, you could not have finished them with any other method. And without some system, you’d probably take 10 times as long to finish them and might not even have them in the order of their importance.

“Do this every working day,” Lee went on. “After you’ve convinced yourself of the value of this system, have your people try it. Try it as long as you like. And then send me your check for whatever you think the idea is worth.”

 The entire interview hadn’t taken more than a half-hour. In a few weeks, the story has it that the company president sent Ivy Lee a check for $25,000 with a letter saying the lesson was the most profitable, from a money standpoint, he’d ever learned in his life. And it was later said that in five years this was the plan that was largely responsible for turning what was then a little-known steel company into one of the biggest independent steel producers in the world. One idea, the idea of taking things one at a time in their proper order, of staying with one task until it’s successfully completed before going on to the next.

For the next seven days try the $25,000 idea in your life. Tonight, write down the six most important things you have to do. Then number them in the order of their importance. And tomorrow morning, go to work on number one. Stay with it till it’s successfully completed, then move on to number two, and so on. When you’ve finished with all six, get another piece of paper and repeat the process. You’ll be astonished and delighted at the order it brings into your life and at the rate of speed with which you’ll be able to accomplish the things that need doing in the order of their importance. This simple but tremendously effective method will take all the confusion out of your life. You’ll never find yourself running around in circles wondering what to do next.

The reason for writing down what you consider only the most important things to do is obvious. Handling each task during the day successfully is important to the degree of the importance of the tasks themselves. Doing a lot of unnecessary things successfully can be pretty much of a waste of time. Make certain that the tasks you take the time to do efficiently are important tasks, tasks that move you ahead steadily toward your goal.

Remember that you need not worry about tomorrow or the next day or what’s going to happen at the end of the month. One day at a time, handled successfully, will carry you over every hurdle. It will solve every problem. You can relax in the happy knowledge that successful tasks make successful days, which in turn build a successful life. This is the kind of unassailable logic no one can argue with. It will work every time for ever one who uses it.”

Quote: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? – Steve Jobs 

Truth Statements by Jason Selk

“I just can’t catch a break this year.” This is exactly what an NFL coach was saying to himself through the first few games of this season. Although it was certainly true—the coach seemed to be on the wrong side of luck—continually saying, “I just can’t catch a break this year” only contributed to more of the same bad tidings.

Yes, it’s true. Continually focusing on the negative actually creates more negative. That’s expectancy theory. Expectancy theory states that whatever you focus on expands. The great thing about expectancy theory is that it works every bit as well with the positive as it does with the negative.

Truth Statements

Truth statements are a great way to get your mind working in your favor. Anytime you find yourself with a re-occurring negative thought, that is a signal that it is time for you to develop a truth statement.  A truth statement is a statement that contains as much or more truth than the re-occurring negative statement, but rather emphasizes strength or something positive.

For example, after a tough loss, the NFL coach decided to begin telling himself, “Even in tough times, I find a way to win. I am at my best when the pressure is on.” The coach told me that he must have repeated his truth statement 300 times or more in the week leading up to the next game.

Another client who happens to be going through a divorce couldn’t shake the thought, “I am a total failure in life, and I will never let myself fall in love again.” Every time she thought about the divorce, she felt worse and worse about herself. With the help of her truth statement (“When I’m ready, I will find love. I am a beautiful, warm, and caring person, and I am very lovable.”), she began to gain back her sense of self.

The Two Keys To Truth Statements:

1. Recognize Quickly. It is important to recognize quickly when a negative re-occurring thought is happening. If you have the same negative thought two times, that means it is time to create a truth statement. The more quickly you can replace the negative with the positive, the better.

2. Be Relentless. You want to use your truth statement relentlessly. No matter how many times the negative thought appears, stop it in it’s tracks by focusing on your truth statement. No matter if it’s 300 or 3000 times in a week, keep replacing the negative with the positive.

Everyone will experience tough times and negative thinking. The most mentally tough people on the planet have learned to replace the negative thoughts with more positive and powerful truth statements. Make the commitment moving forward to use truth statements as a tool for developing your mental toughness.


“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”

Maria Razumich-Zec


“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage and determination.”

John Luther